Chris LaFollette Discusses Boardroom Diversity with Rigzone

Chris LaFollette, a partner in Akin Gump’s oil and gas practice and partner in charge of the firm’s Houston office, was quoted in the Rigzone article “Diversity Defined: Exploring What Oil, Gas is Missing” discussing the importance of boardroom diversity.

According to the article, women make up 22.4 percent of the labor force in S&P 500 mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction companies. Only 13.5 percent of board seats, however, are filled by women, and all of the CEO positions are held by men.

LaFollette said it’s important for boards to have “a mix of experience and expertise and diversity brings a different mix of skills that are important.” She added, “Considering the current industry downturn, boards are now facing even more challenges, so having a mix of perspectives is another way to expand business and problem-solve.”

The energy industry, the article notes, is underrepresented by women on boards partly because it is heavy on engineering, and women have historically graduated with engineering degrees at a much lower rate than men. Percentage-wise, that leaves a smaller pool of diverse candidates.

LaFollette said, while “there’s no blueprint for what makes the perfect board candidate,” there are times when considering “candidates who are younger and have less of a background of what a board has been in a traditional sense” can be beneficial. She continued, that, given the challenging climate the oil and gas industry is facing, now may be an opportune time to get some new and fresh perspectives on the board.